Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kerabu, or Penang-style nonya salad

It has been some time since I featured a recipe on this blog, and thought it was time to revisit this theme with a post on kerabu. It is always interesting to see how people react when they see kerabu.  Many are not too familiar with Penang Nonya dishes as there are quite a few differences between Penang nonya food and the Malacca/Singapore variety. 

Kerabu is a nonya salad, it is very much influenced by Thai cuisine with its combination of sweet, sour, spicy favours all wrapped up in a good dose of umami.  There are many different types of kerabu - jellyfish, fungus, cucumber/pineapple, tau gay, etc.  For some reason or other, my family favourite seems to be kerabu made of kacang botol (or winged bean, or four-angled bean). More recently I tried making kerabu out of tunghoon (mung bean vermicelli).  Here's a quick recipe for both.

Dressing - Ingredients

The dressing for kerabu is always the same - sambal belacan, or chillis and toasted belacan (a dry shrimp paste) pounded together.  You can either make your own (adjusting for spiciness) or just buy a bottle from a reputable producer.  Roughly, the proportion is:

4-5 red chillis
1 tbsp of toasted belacan

Add salt, sugar and lime juice to taste (for kerabu, since it is a dressing, probably about 4-5 limes minimum).

Variation: If you don't have sambal belacan handy and are too lazy to make it, you can also try slicing up some red chillis and adding some Thai fish sauce to the dressing

Salad base
For kerabu kacang botol, ingredients would include :

Wingbeans/kacang botol (typically about 1 packet for 4 pax) - blanch in boiling water so that they retain that crispy texture, cut thinly (I like it  about half a centimetre), on a slant.
4-5 shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried prawn (haebee) -  soaked, pounded
1 tbsp toasted grated coconut (kerisik) - purists would include it, but it is a pain to toast the coconut so I would call it optional.

When the ingredients are ready, toss together in the dressing.

For kerabu tunghoon,  

100g dried tunghoon - soak in warm water and it will expand
300g prawns (shell, devein, cook quickly in boiling water or microwave them)
2 shredded carrots
8-10 shallots, thinly sliced
100g taugay or beansprouts
1/2 cucumber (shredded, pulp removed)
3 stalks lemon grass (thinly sliced)

Toss together in dressing, garnish with mint leaves or coriander leaves. Can also add other things, like the kerisik, as well.


Note: the kacang botol kerabu is our own home recipe, whilst the tunghoon kerabu is adapted from a recipe for kerabu beehoon found in Nonya flavours: A complete guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine.  Many other yummy kerabu recipes there!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your generosity in sharing your own home recipe. While I don't cook, my hunch tells me that your sharing will somehow benefit some others one day, when they wish to recreate a taste of the Penang style nonya salad. :)



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